Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Because I kept seeing enthusiastic reviews of it, I had Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay, on my wish list, and got a copy of it as a Christmas present, just in time to sign up for the Tigana read-along, which begins today.

And if I hadn't wanted to at least get through the prologue and Part I for today's discussion, I might have put the book aside. I think that a lot of good fantasy and science fiction requires you to read like a teenager, in large swathes, without anything else pulling at your attention.  I don't get those large swathes right now.  But I kept reading the seemingly disconnected sections until they finally came together.  Now that I'm ready to start Part II, I find I have a reason for continuing to read, and it's the same reason that the good guys are fighting.  We want revenge; I want to see the bad guys get what they deserve for what they've done to these good guys that have become my friends.

Another way in which I'm no longer able to read like a teenager is that I don't identify as much with the obvious hero, and so I relate to Devin like a mother when I'm told that "a certain kind of pride at Devin's age is perhaps stronger than at any other age of mortal man" because if that isn't an apt description of what's been going on with my almost-fifteen-year-old son, I don't know what is.

The badness of the bad guys is duly testified to by the brutality of Alberico, a sorcerer who " poisoned" and who mercilessly tortures and kills entire families for both imagined and real slights against him, and the mercilessness of Brandin, who not only killed all the women and children of a country, but used magic to make sure that "no one living could hear and then remember the name of that land."  The land, of course, is Tigana.

The good guys are smart and they're also good musicians.  Devin's Tigana ancestry is revealed by his father's decision to teach him a melody.  He is told that:
"Your father chose not to burden you or your brothers with the danger of your heritage, but he set a stamp upon you--a tune, wordless for safety--and he sent you out into the world with something that would reveal you, unmistakably, to anyone from Tigana, but to no one else."

Devin learns to appreciate a lesson taught by the prince of Tigana, who is going by the name of Alessan and traveling with him:
"There will be people put at risk by everything we do, the Prince had said."  This is a lesson that I think you do have to begin learning at 14 or 15, and one of the reasons that the last two videos we've watched at my house have been Charlie Wilson's War and The Three Kings.

So even though I'm too old to be reading Tigana, I'm enjoying it in a more detached, intellectual way.  I think the ideal reader for this book is a teenager who can identify with Devin or be immediately infatuated with him, or both.


Kailana said...

I should have joined this readalong, but my copy of the book is buried somewhere. I finally found a book by Kay that I liked last year, but previously we had a bad relationship. I haven't read this one yet, though, and a couple others that people always love, so we could still end up having a good relationship overall.

Aarti said...

I laughed reading this review. I haven't read this one in a while, but I know what you mean about Devin! This is not my favorite Kay, but it's most everyone *else's* favorite Kay, so I hope you enjoy it :-)

Jeanne said...

Kailana, this is my first one by Kay. It seems to be a very big canvas that's being set up, so I hope the big picture is worth all the time I'm spending on getting there.

Aarti, I was disconcerted to begin Part II and lose the Devin story line, but now I see that the company's relationship is still being delineated.